"I'm going to hire you as my latex salesman?"

The interview process for the Indians’ managerial position will formally begin next week.

General manager Mark Shapiro and assistant GM Chris Antonetti, through conversations with and recommendations from people around the industry, have compiled a list of around 30 potential candidates, and that list will be whittled down to eight to 10 candidates in a matter of days.

The Indians hope to conduct phone interviews next week with each of those eight to 10 candidates from Goodyear, Ariz. (where the front office will be holding their annual player evaluation meetings). From the phone interviews, the field will be narrowed down to three to five candidates, each of whom will come to Cleveland for a more formal interview. Those candidates will also be required to meet with the local media — a prerequisite that the Indians will use to gauge their communication skills.

Based on his talk with reporters this afternoon, this is what Shapiro is looking for:

  • Communication counts.

    Somebody who can effectively demonstrate good awareness and the ability
    to communicate across a broad spectrum of players, cultures and personalities,
    and then being an effective communicator to our market, as well."

  • Pitching is a priority. Given the current construction of the Major League roster and the problems of the recent past, the Indians are placing a high emphasis on the new manager's thoughts on what qualities a pitching coach should possess and how to manage an effective bullpen. 
  • Staff selection skills. One of the knocks on Eric Wedge revolved around the makeup of his Major League staff and how it was dominated by ex-catchers. Shapiro didn't mention that specifically, but he alluded to it when he said he'd be looking for "somebody who
    has the ability to build a diverse staff -- and by that I mean a different set
    of backgrounds, complementary backgrounds, different skill sets and talents. And
    then the ability to utilize those talents."
  • Experience isn't everything. The Tribe's next manager doesn't have to possess Major League or Minor League managerial experience.

    "In every guy's case, there are competencies, attributes and
    experiences that can make a guy fit what we think is a specific profile for a
    Major League manager. You want to find all three, but you often are going to be
    choosing between what is the best possible combination and fit. The perfect guy
    is probably doing it already right now. We look for that best combination. If the
    guy has no experience in doing one thing we're looking for, you hope the other
    two are overwhelming."

  • A wee bit of Wedge. The Indians aren’t looking to drastically change course. So the new guy will probably have some similarities to Wedge. “

    It's a leadership position," Shapiro said. "Our philosophies as an organization are
    the same. Because it's a leadership position, some of the attributes will be
    identical, some will be complementary. But every single individual is going to
    have his own set of strengths and his own set of limitations. I'm not going to
    get in the business of comparing and contrasting with Eric. That's just not
    productive. But I'm sure there will be some things that are similar and some
    that are different, just because of different backgrounds."

  • Market mindset. The new guy will have to understand the Indians' financial limits and the emphasis on young, developing talent. He should possess the ability to ease young players into the big leagues. As Shapiro said, "speeding up that timeframe where
    possible, and, in light of our operating conditions, [understanding] not just the importance but the
    essential nature of young players to our success."
  • Popularity not important. For those clamoring for the returns of Mike Hargrove or Sandy Alomar Jr. or Omar Vizquel (whose still planning to play next year, by the way), prepare to be disappointed. “

    I’m not looking for short-term popularity,” Shapiro said. “I’m looking for a
    guy to come in here and lead this organization effectively and maximize our
    chance of winning ballgames. I’ve said it before: A popular decision in
    December or January is very often your downfall in July or August.”

The goal is to have the new guy selected by the end of the month, with an announcement following the World Series. The timetable could, of course, be affected by the postseason, and whether any of the final candidates are still active in the playoffs.

Regarding candidates, Shapiro, as expected, did not name names. Until the Indians get to the final three to five guys, he’s going to remain secretive.

Obviously, John Farrell remains a popular possibility. I’m still not convinced he won’t be a candidate, regardless of the ESPN.com report over the weekend. It could be that Farrell is just trying to avoid any distractions to the Red Sox postseason run.

Anyway, the search is on, and it will get heated in the next couple weeks. You can read more shortly on Indians.com.

For now, I’m going AWOL — or, more accurately, on vacation — for the next couple days, so this blog will be on hiatus until next week. But I’d like to sincerely thank you all for the kind words in the comments section under the last post. That was certainly not expected and definitely appreciated on this end. Thank you all.

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I didn’t comment on the previous post, but I do want to thank you for your coverage throughout this disappointing year. I know it’s your job and all, but I appreciate that you kept grinding it out day after day, to borrow a phrase.

I missed out on the last post as well, thanks for keeping at least one facet of the team entertaining this year. It’s great to have someone with such a great voice and love for baseball giving us the inside dish.

AC, do you know where we can send our resumes? The job market is really tough right now, and my husband is losing his job in 60 days…. and he fits all of those qualities! 😉

I also want to thank you for giving us such great coverage all season. This blog is the first thing I check every single morning!

The more and more I hear of the expectations the front office has for the manager, the more and more I think John Farrell is the perfect fit. I think the main reason he is saying he isn’t available is because his team in currently in the playoffs, and discussions/interviews/etc. are just unneeded and improper distractions for himself and the Red Sox at this time. I guess time will tell.
By the way, once you get back AC, I was wondering about Adam Miller. How is he doing? Is he still going to be ready for Spring Training? Will it be likely to see him active next year at any level?

Thanks for your coverage this year.
No rush on the manager hire. Let the playoffs finish and they seek the top candidates from all teams. We need somebody who can get the most out of his players.

Hey, did anyone see that Eric Wedge is available as a manager next season? I heard he’s a grinder. I know some people criticize his in-game decisions, his constant lineup fluctuations, his coaching staff, and his ability to finish off upper-level talent, but he keeps a team really even-keel, not getting excited after a win or upset about a loss, which you need if you’re gonna grind through the whole 162-game season. I wonder if Shapiro’s gonna have him on the list?

Thanks for the great coverage AC. Starting around the beginning of September, this blog was the only source of Indians news that I could bear to read. I truly appreciate the quality of reporting we get from you. That said, how about not taking so many vacations next year?* It’s always a huge bummer in my day when I head to CastroTurf and there’s no lineups or minutiae, and then I remember you’re away for a wedding or some lame excuse like that. C’mon, you know you’ve gotta grind through 162 games.

(*Tongue planted firmly in cheek. But seriously.)

Oh, AC…

“whose still planning to play next year, by the way”

You either need to change to “who’s” or add a question mark to the end of the statement my friend. Nice work otherwise as usual. Thanks for the updates

AC, i personally believe that this season wouldn’t have been the same without you. To be totally honest, it wasn’t until last year that i really began to read your blog. this year, lets just say i was looking it up every night, at the same time im looking up how the indians are doing, all the dreadful trade talk they had. you were always the bright spot, such a hard worker, and a very..i must say..very good writer. After the Cliff Lee deal, i was amazed you wrote like 3-4 articles in that one night. I have fun reading your blog, and will be here for every new post!


You know who we really could use, a guy like Ozzie Guillen, he sure has quite an attitude for a winning team. Yeah he didn’t get to the playoffs this year with this white sox, but, they were in quite the race. and just look how he handles rookies…Gordon Beckham, will have spotlight for years to come. Now lets take that same managerial style and apply it to half a line up of rookies? then we got some serious business in Rock n Roll City.

Not that Guillen wouldn’t be entertaining, but I think they need someone who either a) has more experience or b) comes from a pitching background. The ’03 Marlins come to mind.
One of the guys at Let’s Go Tribe suggested the Tribe sign Shoppach for another year and play him every day in hopes of being able to trade him at mid-season. I think there are a lot of “if’s” in that scenario, all of which make me question spending even the small amount of money we’d spend on Shoppach.
Does anyone know what obligation we have to him going forward?

Since this is AC’s last blog for a while, it only make sense that this would be the spot to begin our speculation!
Going with what we have and know now, it would appear that our roster will be Choo, Sizemore, Brantley, Peralta, Cabrera, Valbuena, LaPorta, and Marson, with Pronk at DH and Crowe as the 4th outfielder. Add in 12 pitchers (most of which we could probably name, bullpen notwithstanding), and you’ve got 3 spots left, one for utility infielder, one for back-up catcher, and one other.
Now, as I mentioned before, I’d love to see them pick up Omar as the utility guy, even if he doesn’t fit the offensive needs. I know Shapiro said they wouldn’t bring in a MANAGER just for PR, but a utility guy might do wonders, at least for one year. I think we all know who the in system options are.
As for back-up catcher, assuming we’re entertaining a new era of Cleveland baseball where actual ability to produce is more important than the ability to play multiple positions, Toregas should get the nod.
That leaves the last spot, in recent years reserved for a catch/turned first baseman/turned outfielder/turned Slider. Now, I know I’ve ripped this organization for “hedging their bets,” as I call it, but this last spot should be used for just that, aka Andy Marte. They can work him in at first, third, and DH, and will give them an instant option if/when they deal Peralta.
While performance will be a factor, I don’t expect to see Peralta, Marson, Westbrook, or Wood on the roster in 2011.

I agree with the position players. I think we’re pretty solid there. The huge problem will be our rotation. As shaky as it was coming in to this year, it is even that much more so in 2010. Even if we pick up a bargain bin, middle-of-the-rotation veteran, who will be our #1 and #2 starter? I want to believe Westbrook will be able to pitch out of Spring Training, but it will be two years since he pitched in the bigs. And, it will have been even longer since Carmona was effective. In more happier times, I’d feel uncomfortable about having either of them as my guaranteed 3-5 starter. I was generally pleased with what I saw in Laffey, Huff, and Masterson this year. But, they’re all a few strides away from being top of the rotation guys. I also think Sowers is destined for long relief. That is not a knock on his stuff. I think he will actually be a great bullpen guy. Let put a worst case scenario out there……What if Westbrook and Carmona both are not available in the rotation next year. What will our rotation be?

I’ve got a recommendation : ) .. do ya have any juice : ) ?
Rick Down!!!!! do a little research on his Managerial record.. . .. . ; Sick!

Buz – http://buzblog.mlblogs.com/

yeah, I mean Buster Olney isn’t one of the most trusted sources. So yeah, John Farrell wants to concentrate on his team being in the postseason, and why not. After that, I am betting we will hear that John is at least willing to talk to Mark.

I think AC’s imaginary rotation that imaginary John Farrell named in their imaginary conversation was a good prediction: Carmona, Laffey, Westbrook, Masterson, and Huff. I don’t see why Carmona wouldn’t be available for the rotation next year, it’s just a matter of how effective he is.
I would expect, like many of us have said, that Sowers’ future is in the ‘pen, if for no other reason than he’s out of options and if he doesn’t win a starting job, he’s got to end up there if we’re to hold on to him.
But we have plenty of guy beyond the five listed above: Carrasco, Pino, Rondon, Scott Lewis (if he ever gets healthy), and even Chuck Lofgren, playing the part of this year’s Huff. From what I’ve read, any of those first three guys I mentioned have potential #1 stuff, it’s simply a matter of getting them there, which is fine, if our target is 2011. Of the proposed 2010 rotation, I think only Carmona has #1 stuff, although I think Masterson has the potential to be a heck of a #2.

the question I have is which pitcher, and we all know their names, becomes the 2009 version of Scott Lewis? Not the injured pitcher but the guy that surprised everyone with his productive spring training to steal the #5 job away from Aaron ‘this job is owed to me so I don’t need to work’ Laffey. I know I’ve been hard on Laffey and will continue to do so with good reason. His attitude last spring raises my eyebrow when I analyze the guy. But in his defense his willingness to do whatever the organization asked him to do (go to Columbus and work, hold down the ML bullpen then revert back to starting) shows us glimpses. I think people have decided to neglect his inconsistencies when he returned to the rotation full time and simply overrate his productive outings. I know most people, AC included, think that he is the 3-2 0.79 ERA guy we saw in May of 2008. I just don’t see it.

Having said that, Laffey’s spot in the rotation next year is pretty much guaranteed but I hope he doesn’t train like it is for the second straight year. I mentioned previously that it didn’t look like Jeremy Sowers learned anything from Cliff Lee, on the mound Laffey appears to have been in his ear.

From what I’ve seen from Masterson, I’d say he has potential #1 stuff. I didn’t realize he threw that hard, every time I saw him the radar gun was showing him hitting 95-96 pretty consistently … I’d always heard that the great thing about Carmona was that he threw so hard with the movement he had, but usually he sits around 92 and I’ve rarely seen him hit anything above 94, even back in ’07. jkrumwiede, I don’t see the Indians picking up any free agent this year; if they do, I’d personally think it a mistake because they should be concentrating on developing pitchers who can contribute for the future, so a one year rental makes no sense. Of the Westbrook, Laffey, Carmona, Masterson Huff rotation, there isn’t one guy there I’d say should be left out from a developmental perspective, in August I would’ve said Huff could benefit from more work in the minors but he pitched well enough in Sept that I don’t feel that way anymore. The one caveat to that would be if Westbrook is unable to make it back … hopefully they’ll have a read on him by this winter and can make a move accordingly … AM, I share your concern about Laffey, his BB/9 trend is a frightening, shades of Carmona. I have two hopes in this regard, that a new pitching coach will help, and that Westbrook can return and be a positive influence on these young guys … Carmona Masterson and Laffey are all sinker guys like Westbrook, so it stands to reason that they could learn a lot from him … I have to wonder about how much of an influence Cliff Lee was, I have no idea what the relationships between the players were like, but it always seemed that Lee was pretty aloof, and not exactly someone who’d be a great teacher

One problem with the lineup that isn’t discussed enough is the left handed bias. Even a bigger problem because two of the right handed bats are the weakest in the lineup, Marson and Peralta. Try to make a lineup that’s not susceptible to a late-inning LH relief specialist. This is the main reason I don’t see them signing Omar, he doesn’t hit well enough anymore and they need the backup infielder to be productive from the right side, Carroll fits the bill, Donald is a big question mark so I don’t see them counting on him for next year … would they consider trading Choo? Possibly for a right handed or switch hitting 1st baseman, and then slot Laporta into the outfield?

Is anyone else depressed along with me with the number of “previous” Tribe players participating in the post season??? Can you imagine the team we would have if all of those players were combined at one time???

Masterson does have #1 stuff, but, he isn’t that consistent always. I say, go with Westbrook, Masterson, Carmona, Huff, (insert final candidate) the candidates being, Sowers (due to his great september), Rondon (if he lives up to expectations) and a few others, possibly a pick up over the winter. But not Carrasco, he just isn’t major league material what so ever.

to Savagetruth, its disappointing not to see them on our rosters, but heck its not the fans fault its the managements fault. wish them the best is all im doing.

Indianomega, you dropped Laffey from the rotation.
I think Carrasco just needs more time in AAA. I wouldn’t say he’s not major league material.

It has occurred to me (and this might be the Jack Daniels talking) but this “retool for 2011” spin that Shapiro is throwing out could be his last chance at keeping his job.
I mean, let’s look at our probable starting line-up for 2011, assuming all goes as we think it will, and inserting Andy Marte in there because there is, as ever, a big question mark at third.
Choo — acquired via trade with Seattle for Broussard
Sizemore — of the famous Colon deal with Montreal
Brantley — from the CC deal with the Brewers
Marte — the Coco deal with Boston
Cabrera — again from the Mariners for Perez
Valbuena – again from Seattle, basically for Guiterrez
LaPorta — also from the CC deal
Santana — from the Blake deal with the Dodgers
Hafner — from the Rangers for Diaz and Drese

Our 1-9 will be entirely players brought in by Shapiro through trades. He’s got a lot riding on those guys.

LACF, what does that say about his drafts? I realize Bud Grant among others have input about whom they take but after Sabathia and prior to the Mills draft no one has even been highly touted let alone consistently productive. Therefore, THIS draft is a breaking point for me with Shapiro. He easily could have been “promoted” when Wedge was dismissed and therefore given Antonetti the reigns but seeing as he’s Shapiro’s right hand man I doubt there would be a significant difference between the two. Having said that, the three biggest names I want to see in an Indians uniform perhaps for 2011 if not 2012 are Santana, Chisenhall and Weglarz. Man, that Canadian can hit, eh?

Two guys who I have not seen mentioned in the Indians managerial hunt are Ellis Burks and Omar Vizquel ( Player-Manager). I realize neither have managerial experience both both are total class guys who have always communicated well and both love the game of baseball and you could always see how much they enjoyed it. Baseball hasn’t seemed fun in Cleveland since about the time these guys played there. Just the fact that Omar blames Jose Mesa for blowing game 7 of the ’97 WS means he certainly didn’t agree with Hargrove’s brainless move to bring him into the game after two of the best innings of Brian Anderson’s career. That alone gives him an edge over the typical “by the book” Grovers of the world.

Here is my Take on the Indians in 2010: With Westbrook and Reyes coming back next year, the rotation should be pretty decent, leaning on above average.

If we can build up a good bullpen, with Sipp and Perez performing well again, we can have a good season. If Laporta and Brantley can find rythm, then we are going to be an 85 win team.

The only way we will win the Central, is if teams like Detroit and Minnesota end up winning in the low 80’s. But I think the Indians could do it.

Kerry Wood WON’T get traded due to the fact no one wants him. We should keep Pronk, he will get to be full strength this year, and 30-40 HR could juice this young lineup.

We will have to wait and see.

Please stop by my blog and see Ted’s Take on things, Indians baseball primarily, and baseball in general.

All Indians all the time, and if you wanna email me,.. here is my email: tjgwilliams@zoominternet.net


Ha! AM, I had an entire other point about drafts (with regards to our pitching, in particular), but evidently the JD fogged me up too much to get to it. It’ll be really interesting to see if guys like Laffey, Carmona, and Huff manage to keep spots in the rotation, or if it will be the guy Shapiro traded for that step up.
At some point, the drafts have to pan out, if for no other reason than for Shapiro to have guys to trade!

Ted, Reyes? Really? Aside from the fact that he’ll basically be where Westbrook was THIS season (aka rehabbing, so not a lock to even return), it’s not like Reyes has explosive numbers or anything. Honestly, he’d slide right into a rotation that’s already filled to the gills with #4 starters.
Plenty of teams want Wood and will want him even more come mid-season of next year, even if he performs like he did this year. Why? Because teams in a play off hunt always want bullpen arms. Heck, the Red Sox picked up Wagner, who was only a few games back from Tommy Johns. There will always be a demand for relievers — always.

Russ, aside from the fact that Shapiro has specifically said they won’t hire a manager just for the PR of it, neither of the guys you mention have any experience. Besides, why bring in Omar in a position that a) doesn’t exist anymore and b) he has no experience at, when you can just bring him as a utility guy? The new manager needs to be hired based on his merit, not on nostalgia.
And, while the 90’s teams might have been fun, the ’07 team was easily just as enjoyable. I don’t think a single player on those 90’s team was as enjoyable to watch as Grady was in ’07, and watching C.C. and Victor raise the divsion flag was one of the best sights in Indians’ history.
As much as I love Omar, that ’07 team was just as much fun.

LACF: I see where your going with the Wood thing, and your entitled to your opinion and all, but what good are we going to get for him? Wagner has an absolute bullet of an arm and he can still hurl above average, Kerry isn’t anywhere near his talent level. We could get a single A mediocre player and a player to be named later? If that suits you. Please stop by my blog at


Ted, you’re basically claiming that Wood has less value thank Garko or Betancourt, given that we got pretty good prospects for each of them. That caliber of prospect, plus the assumption a good chunk of Wood’s remaining salary, would be more than enough in return for him.
And Kerry very much is near that talent level, as his numbers from ’08 prove. His sporadic use in ’09 was obviously an issue.

LACF I’d be very surprised if they move Wood in the offseason. At $10 million he’s, what, $7 million overvalued? Who’s going to want him, unless the Indians eat a minimum of $6 million of the contract, and get nothing in return? He was an average to below average pitcher this year. Who’s going to want to even pay him $3-4 million? I’d guess that they hang onto him, and if they’re out of contention and he’s pitching well next year he’ll be a trade deadline deal in 2011.

ST, I’ve always maintained he’d be dealt mid-season, and his value would be dependent on his performance the first half of next year, but that he’ll go one way or the other.
And, given the teams that are normally in the hunt at mid-season, there should be no shortage of teams who will fork over $3-4 million a year for a year and a half of Wood in their bullpen — which is why I think he’ll get moved next year, when they get him for a year and a half. I can’t see any team that would pay for him half a season.
On the flipside, what’s the point of keeping him? Why NOT get that $3-4 million back and open up a chance for some of the guys we’ve acquired recently? Why would that be a bad thing?

That episode was just on!!! “I’m Keith Hernandez”

I would say that I agree with LACF about Wood being desirable to potential playoff teams come July despite his $10M contract. Salary relief + a mid level prospect is acceptable for his 2009 season. If he’s lights out and consistent in 2010 then the price tag goes WAY up. Look at what the Mets gave up for Putz. At that point you have to look at who would be able to fill Wood’s shoes. Not Jensen Lewis. You had your chance to do as the organization desired (back to setup role) and failed miserably. I look at Chris Perez as a capable guy seeing as he’s done it in St. Louis but I wouldn’t want him to be another Betancourt: dominant setup guy, terrible closer. That brings up Jess Todd and perhaps Adam Miller.

ah, I assumed Ted was talking about Wood not being dealt before next year, which I’d agree with. Thinking about next year’s July trades is getting a little ahead of ourselves … you never know, the Indians might be in contention come July in which case they might be making a deal for a reliever … I don’t really know what to think of Perez, he was dominant for that long stretch in the middle but then was pretty terrible at the beginning and end, hopefully he can be more consistent next year… haven’t seen much from Todd to show that his minors success can even translate to the majors, he doesn’t throw real hard, and always seems to throw the same pitch at the same speed. I think the bullpen will be solid with or without Wood, Joe Smith was pitching very well before he was injured again, Veras pitched well at the end, they’d be wise to re-sign him. So, next year we’d have Smith, Sipp and C Perez for the 7th and 8th inning, Wood hopefully performing better as closer, with Veras, Sowers and one other, possibly Jensen Lewis to start the year, making up the front end of the bullpen. Unlike last year, they should have a lot of depth at AAA to account for injuries or ineffectiveness from the above players, with guys like Todd, Grening, Hermann, Josh Judy, Steven Wright, Neil Wagner, Carlton Smith … with Adam Miller and R Perez potentially around as well … anyone else notice that Jon Meloan pitched 8 shutout innings with 11 SOs with Oakland at the end of the year? If the guy never throws a baseball again, trading him for Winston Abreu was still a completely insane thing to do

ST, I absolutely love your optimism about next year. I don’t really share it, but I love it. The fact that I don’t share it is why I think Wood gets dealt next July. Strangely enough, AC suggested he gets moved in the coming off-season in his imaginary interview with John Farrell.
Jess Todd is a little confusing. Everything I’ve read about him indicates he’s a natural born closer, and his AAA stats would seem to support that. But he really didn’t show much for most of his stint with the Tribe, but perhaps that was just adjusting. I would definitely prefer to keep C. Perez in the set up role.
I wouldn’t take Meloan’s September numbers to heart, ST. He was probably facing mostly AAA guys. Besides, the Tribe was one of 3 teams that let him go this year — there’s got to be a reason for it.

Todd this year reminded me a lot of a right handed Rafael Perez, the ’09 version, seems every pitch he threw was around 91 mph, had some movement, but it seemed he threw the same pitch over and over and didn’t have great command… unfortunately two of Meloan’s innings were against the Indians, a AAA team for sure, but that AAA team was also our 2010 Indians lineup, sans Sizemore … hard to say why he moved around so much, other than his first two months at Columbus Meloan put up decent numbers in the minors, and he was designated for assignment twice, but he was also claimed off waivers twice … either way Meloan’s already had a better career than Winston freaking Abreu, who has about the worst numbers in the majors that I’ve ever seen … I’m not that optimistic about next year, but i do think there’s a possibility that they do okay, and okay is about all they’ll need to compete in the Central. Every one of their starting pitchers has potential to be decent or terrible … it will be interesting

ST, Meloan’s ERA with Columbus was 5.52; I wouldn’t consider that decent numbers. And we got more for him than the Rays or the Pirates did, as both just designated him for assignment and let him go to other teams.
Our pitching staff is exactly why I hope we go .500 next year, because our chances of our rotation being great are just about even with the chances of them being awful, so I’ll be happy with some forward progress.

yeah but Meloan had a 2.7 ERA in Columbus in June, the month before he was traded, a 1.17 ERA with Indianapolis and 3.38 with Durham, he stats were skewed by an awful May in Columbus where he had an ERA over 8 … from that point on he performed very well … still receives my weirdest trade award, and depending on what moves Shapiro makes in the future we could be looking back and saying, yep, that’s about when Mark lost his mind. I’m not too upset about it though since I as I said it looks like they’ll have some high level relief pitching depth next year, might’ve been tough to keep someone like Meloan on the 40 man roster … the logic behind the move is what’s frightening … Winston Abreu? I hope whoever recommended they give that guy a chance has since been fired … the Pirates and Rays actually did receive more for Meloan, because their fans never had to witness Abreu pitching for their big league club, while we, unfortunately, did … Winston Abreu is officially less than nothing

perhaps I am off base here but who in the bullpen really makes you think they can be successful besides Wood, Sipp and C. Perez? IMO no other bullpen spots should be guaranteed but in Shapiro’s mind Joe Smith would probably be on that short list as well. If that’s the case then who are the other 3 RPs we carry? J. Lewis, R. Perez and Veras probably have the inside tracks but then where do you put Sowers? Our 2010 record will only be as successful as our pitching staff. Now that may be a ‘captain obvious’ statement but it’s still noteworthy.

Regarding C. Perez. – I think he is still going to be a top notch reliever. That stretch in the middle where he was lights-out makes me think that is what his potential can be in the very near future. The beginning rough patch I chalk up to his nerves. He was on a new team, where he could make an impact in a struggling bullpen, he didn’t know anyone, nor did he know his catchers, coaches, etc. I don’t fault him for any of that. Plus, come on, he plunked two straight White Sox. The rough patch at season’s end could be attributed to his ankle. I haven’t reviewed any video, but, it could have affected his delivery, or it could have taken something off his pitches. It could have been just a bad outing or two. Either way, it’s not something I’m overly worried about. If I’m wrong, we’ll be sure to discuss it next season in length.
Regarding Jess Todd. – I think his biggest problem was that he just simply wasn’t ready for the MLB when he was rushed in. Sure, his numbers were good in AAA, but I need not mention the difference in NL and AL for pitchers, never mind the difference in AAA and MLB. Whether his “stuff” is good enough to be a closer on the MLB level, I guess time will tell.
Regarding Kerry Wood. – I’m not going to lie, I would love to keep Kerry Wood for his contract, and resign him. Despite his sub par year, I think if he gets consistent work, we will see better results. However, I think we did overpay by a lot. Especially in an offseason where the bigger names were going for bargain bin prices (unless you were in Bizarro world, signing with the Yankees). Also, having a $10,000,000 arm in the bullpen, on a rebuilding team doesn’t make sense. Especially for one that is hurting for cash. Especially one that has “closer options”.
Regarding those “closer options”. – I think we have a few that could replace him right away if need be (C. Perez, J. Lewis [Don’t laugh, I will explain this one shortly]), and a few that could potentially close in a few year’s time (Hagadone, Todd). I think Chris Perez is our best bet. We’ll have to see if what we saw in the middle of his tenure was legit, but if it is, I think he could do it. Now, I think Jensen Lewis could still work as a closer. He isn’t the power fastball, and power slider sort of guy like Wood, Perez, or most of the closers out there. However, he has a splendid change-up when he’s throwing it properly. If he mixes it well with his other pitches, I could see him as a closer more in the style of Trevor Hoffman. Let’s not forget he had 13 saves in 14 opportunities last year. That’s a pretty good conversion rate that we would have killed for this year. Sure, he had a rough season. But, I think just about everyone on this team did. Don’t rule him out yet.

whereas Aaron Laffey adjusted to the needs of the organization without complaining, Jensen Lewis couldn’t build off of that 13-14 conversion success. His delivery is herky-jerky and perhaps it took the other teams a little while to get used to it. They say his fastball isn’t fast by any stretch but rather it comes up on the hitter quickly because of his delivery. The league adjusted to him and he failed to re-adjust. I find my use for Lewis other than garbage mop up time. When he was the garbage man he’d throw 3 scoreless innings. When we put him back into a meaningful situation he folded like a cheap lawnchair.

Ehh….I’m not going to rule him out just yet. I’m not saying that this year wasn’t bad, and am not saying that what you are saying doesn’t have credence. I think he can still make adjustments, and can still be a useful part in the bullpen. And, should proper adjustments be made, I think he can still close. I remember early in the season (the first series or two), his change up was dancing and dropping to very good effect. However, once it flattened out, and he couldn’t control it as well, was when the HRs started coming.

AM you can get by having one or two average pitchers in the bullpen, Joe Smith was pitching very well before he hurt his knee, I would add him to the list of decent pitchers. Sowers could also be a very good long relief guy. I don’t even take Rafael Perez into consideration, if he can get back to where he was that’s an extra bonus, right now there’s no reason to have any more faith in his ability to return than Adam Miller, it would be great if one or both of those guys could come back, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it. Jensen Lewis and Veras are weak links, but both are capable of getting outs and Veras at least was dominant at times. Sowers, Lewis, Veras, Smith, Sipp, C Perez, Wood … not bad, in my opinion. The biggest strength should be that if one or more of these guys bombs or is injured, which is likely, they should have a number of prospects they can turn to, Todd, Josh Judy (63 SOs in 49 innings at Akron) Neil Wagner (69 SOs in 61 innings), Brian Grening (58 SOs in 48 innings at various levels), Steven Wright and Carlton Smith and Frank Hermann had very good ERAs as well, but their strikeout rates weren’t as impressive … Akron’s gaudy record was obviously built on excellent relief pitching, and those guys should all open the season in Columbus

I find that some are too overly optimistic about our potential bullpen. I am cautiously pessimistic. ST, while the guys you named might have been productive in the minors, asking them to immediately translate that success into the majors is a tall task to order, ala Jess Todd. The makeup of this team for 2010 and beyond is a process and we must treat it like so. I give him a slight pass b/c of his injuries this year but Joe Smith was NOT what Shapiro and Wedge told us he was when we acquired him. They said he was capable of being an inning pitcher but lefties hit .355 off him. He’s a Paul Assenmacher specialist, that’s it. Sipp is young, learning and shows good flashes of dominance. I have no qualms with C. Perez. Wood needed constant work as he told us so but Wedge ruined him as did our lackluster play neglecting to give him opportunities to close. He will be fine IMO. He may not be $10M quality given the market but I will take it.

$8M for Hoffman and the free agents are looming to cash in such as Mike Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg, Fernando Rodney, Rafael Soriano, Jose Valverde, Billy Wagner none of whom will get $10M a year.

To expect that none of those prospects will pan out isn’t cautiously pessimistic, it’s extremely pessimistic. If even 25% of those guys can translate their success to the big leagues that’s still 2 successful pitchers … Smith’s career he’s .320 against LH, so that’s to be expected, but his ERA was 2.79, 2.35, 2.61 June – August, if that’s indicative of healthy Joe Smith, we can’t complain … what’s interesting about Wood, everyone keeps saying that if he gets more work he’ll be more successful (I don’t necessarily disagree), but his splits this year tell the opposite story, he was much more successful when he was pitching on extended rest, with no rest he was getting hit at .314 .829 OPS, with 1 day rest it dropped to .229/.892, with 2 days rest that dropped to .222/.567, 3 days .167/.675, 4 days .172/.398 … so he was awful, on the level of ’09 Brad Lidge, with no or one day rest, ERA 6.00 and 7.11 respectively, and was a good pitcher with more than one day rest. Got lit up by Boston, the Cubs, and Baltimore at times when he was pitching quite regularly … not saying it means anything, he didn’t have that problem in previous years as a reliever, but it’s … interesting

ST, in terms of this debate, a healthy and clean one to boot, I think we are at a conversational impasse but there is no reason we cannot continue it. One stat you left out about Smith was his 7.11 ERA in April. He added to our early season woes much like the rest of the bullpen despite only pitching 6.1 innings but as I said he had an uncharacteristic injury-filled season. He will pass go. He will not go directly to jail and he will collect $200.

Additionally, there is one word in my minor league bullpen analysis that I believe you glossed over. It was immediately. To expect two of those names you mentioned to immediately aid our bullpen early on in 2010 is overly optimistic IMO. I said it months ago: our depth and talent lies at single and double-A. With one more year of experience we can hope that those guys matured one full level.

I thought I would share this…
I am a grad student at Oklahoma State University, located in Stillwater, Oklahoma, yet I live about 100 miles away on the other side of Tulsa. Typically, I will drive to the OSU Tulsa campus, and ride one of university’s buses to campus in Stillwater. The drivers are typically former teachers, or retired individuals from Stillwater, and it’s interesting to stop and talk with them while waiting for students to arrive at the stop. At times, at least it’s mildly more interesting than staring at the sidewalk. One particular driver, I noticed, was wearing a Mahoning Valley Scrappers hat, and occasionally an Indians hat. I thought that to be a good enough topic for conversation as anything, and I started talking about the dismal season that 2008 had been, and how I hoped 2009 would be better (yikes). I figured if he had a rotation of a Scrappers hat and an Indians hat, he must have some passing knowledge of the team. However, he admitted that he hadn’t followed the Indians long, as his son, Donnie Webb, had only just been drafted by the Indians in the 2008 Draft from OSU (10th round, No. 321 overall) . What a small world. I started following his stats, and he spent most of this year in Lake County, where he ended with an average of .289 AVG/7 HR/57 RBI/.771 OPS. When the Indians called up Brantley, and LaPorta and Crowe had established themselves on the Indians active roster in September, Webb got called all the way up to AAA, where in 7 games he hit .367, and hit successfully in all but one game. Where he’ll end up in his career, or where he’ll start next season is anyone’s guess. But, for an Indians fan way out in Oklahoma (who rarely sees another fan), I found it to be more than spectacular.

Smith wasn’t healthy in April though … as for the minor leaguers, we, hopefully, don’t need any of them to be available “immediately.” The only way that would come to pass is if there are preseason injuries. And I would also say that for more than any other position in baseball, relief pitcher is one where young guys often do step in and produce very well, in the case of Jensen Lewis, R Perez and Fernando Cabrera, the best they ever will, when they are first called up. Opposing players’ unfamiliarity with the new guy is usually a huge benefit for relievers. Jensen Lewis only pitched 10 games in AAA before he was called up on ’07, for example. Any one of those guys if they perform well in Columbus would be good for a call up, compare that to this year, when we had to call up the retread Herges, with an ERA over 5 at Columbus, and our best AAA relief prospect at the start of the year was traded for Winston Abreu … the idea of a relief pitcher needing a full year at AAA is insanity, the level of hitting talent at AAA is diluted versus AA, because the top hitting prospects are usually called up pretty quickly and you’re facing a lot of guys of the Niuman Romero and Graffanino variety … only the Indians leave a prospect like Santana at the same level for an entire year … and I mean that literally, ONLY the Indians, Santana’s OPS was over 70 points higher than the next best qualifier, not I’m sure because no one passed through the Eastern League who could hit, but because the guys who’re hitting to the tune of a .940 OPS were bumped up to AAA midway through the season at the latest … take it slow is the mantra I guess after the Brandon Philips, Alex Escobar and Andy Marte disasters, but there should be no need to wait for a full year of AAA seasoning for every one of their relief pitching prospects

JK, that’s awesome! I’ll have to keep an eye on him now.

I honestly don’t expect any of our youngsters to have an immediate impact aside from improving over the course of the year. I look at guys like C. Perez and Todd and consider 2010 to be their chance as getting the kind of experience that will force them to either step up to the next level or head back to the minors. I view 2010 as AAAA for the Tribe, basically.
I also feel pretty optimistic about Smith, and the future of our bullpen in general, particularly since I’m focusing on 2011 (sorry, ST).
I have littel to know faith in Lewis or R. Perez. If we’re talking set up lefty, I’m ready to let Sipp have that role. If wer’e talking middle relief righty, I’m willing to give that to Sowers. I think both Lewis and Perez are easily replaceable at this point — and I’m a guy who named Lewis our closer of the future in ’07 (and actually suggested we NOT sign a big time closer going into this season).
The other thing to keep in mind with our bullpen is that we will, by default, have starters who will have no place to go, and could be converted, like Sowers and possibly even Huff. I’d take those two as middle relief, which then just leaves us with five spots in the ‘pen (and I’m only putting Huff in there if some of the other starters end up taking his rotation spot by 2011).

I still have faith that Lewis and R. Perez can still salvage themselves and return to former glory (such as it was), but granted, they are on a short leash. Speaking of our relievers down on the farm, I look forward to Niel Wagner. He seems to be a real classy guy, and I loved reading his blog. At the risk of sounding like an elitist, he isn’t what you would expect in a professional baseball player.

Sowers and Huff are both lefties with a similar style, one but not both could be in the bullpen … there’s no reason to be overly excited about or dependent on Todd, to me that’s just the trade bias that affects us Indians fans, and seemingly the Indians management, basically we assume any of our drafted prospects will suck, and hope that guys we trade for will not. I would bet that Todd will open the year in Columbus … I’m surprised it’s taken as a given that the Indians will even sign Rafael Perez, he’s arbitration eligible, correct? I can’t imagine that they’d hang onto him anyway if he comes into spring training throwing like he was this year, so he might just be a waste of space on the roster this off season, like Mujica and Kobayashi last year

Ah…. Tony Sipp is the best “holds” man in this Indians organization – and if he can keep steppin’ his game up… move over bullpen!! He is the key to this bullpen believe me.

Check out my newest post


In terms of Kerry Wood next season, I would keep him for this reason, we have no idea who can effectively step in after he is traded. I still would go into 2010 season trying to win the division, and when that happens, I would have that one guy who has closer stuff to use Kerry as his mentor. For instance, if the Indians brass thinks Chris Perez can be that next closer, then have him talk to Kerry, hang out with Kerry, whatever it takes. I look at the Angels as a prime example. When Francisco Rodriguez got called up, we heard how Troy Percival was his mentor, and the two of them were inseperable, and they even started the 2003 season with Rodriguez setting up Percival so that when Trtoy was either traded or went somewhere else, the Angels knew Rodriguez was ready to take over and they had a closer for years. The same thing happened in 1995 and 1996 when Mariano Rivera was setting up John Wetteland in New York. John was Mariano’s mentor. That is why the Indians MUST do that. Not just for the present sense, but they also need to think about their long term future too. We haven’t seen the Indians do that, I have been screaming for that, but nothing. Now is the time to do it.

cantonguy, I don’t think you have to worry about it, they can’t even give Wood away, like the Blue Jays did with Alex Rios, if you have $10 million to spend, there will be better options than Wood available … I mean if they could trade him they definitely should, because unfortunately we have no idea if Kerry Wood himself can effectively step in next year to replace that guy who looked like Kerry Wood but kinda sucked who was closing games this year, for all we know Chris Perez might be a better closer and 9.5 million cheaper … Or the Indians could trade Wood to the White Sox for an autographed Ozzie Guillen baseball card, and then sign Rafael Soriano for $9 million, that would work too

Now I generally think the reason why Kerry wasn’t as effective because he couldn’t get into a rhythm this season, even when the Indians did win, they usually won big, so he couldn’t get into any of those games. Hopefully there will be a bit more of a stability with the pitching so he can effectively step in more as a top notch closer and in turn, mentor one of the younger guys to step right in.

Hahaha….With our recent track record of large, multi-year contracts, I would have to agree.

Looking over what I just wrote, got me thinking, how when free agency started last year I was hoping of all the relievers out there that they’d sign Wood and was excited when they actually did, and I still don’t actually think Kerry Wood sucks, and have a “feeling” he will bounce back next year, but at the same time, if I woke up tomorrow to a headline saying that the Indians traded Wood and $3,000,000 to the White Sox for an Ozzie Guillen baseball card, I’d almost certainly think to myself, “Good trade” … actually, if the headline said “Indians Trade Travis Hafner, Kerry Wood, Jake Westbrook, and $6,000,000 to White Sox for Autographed Ozzie Guillen Baseball Card” I’d say “Awesome trade!” … I think we should never sign anyone to a contract worth more than $5 million

That’s what I’ve been saying, ST. I know we’ll have to eat a chunk of Wood’s salary, but any money we save is, well, money we save. It also gives us a chance to find an answer from within, which would not only be cheaper but would also be around beyond 2011. As it stands right now, we’d be out a closer again after our first “competitive” season.

So, how ’bout that parity that Bud has going on? The remaining four teams all have payrolls over $100 million and are all in the top 9 in payroll. Even more ridiculous is that the Yankees payroll is TWICE the Dodgers!
This is a great league we follow here.
For what it’s worth, the Tribe was 15th with a payroll of $81,625,567.
But since payroll evidently directly effects post-season appearances, we’re still 7 spots away from getting in…

Now I guess we can put the “John Farrell is the Indians’ savior”debate to rest. One less thing to talk about. Furthermore, to piggyback on AC’s comments, not only to do I think Indians cannot afford Bobby Valentine but I do not think he’s the right man for the job either. Granted the Japanese league would be forced to overpay for a guy of his ML experience but he was still overpaid over there. Then again their economy isn’t in the toilet like ours. One by one the named candidates are dropping like that fly ball in the sun which Sizemore couldn’t grab back in 2005. So who’s left, rumors or not? Lets try to make a list:

Travis Fryman, albeit probably a few years away but a great candidate
Torey Lovullo, internal hire is unlikely according to our inside sources (ahem, AC)
Mike Hargrove, seeing as his wife confirmed on the radio today that the Indians called him I still don’t think he’s the guy. It’s not the early ’90s anymore and while he would sell tickets from a fans’ reactionary response for like 2.2 seconds, long term he’s not the answer.
Manny Acta, ESPN reported that the Indians and Astros contacted him
Dave Clark, another candidate that has been rumored to the Tribe desite finishing Houston’s season as their interim manager
how about making a run after Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan IF they decide to leave? Many teams would love one if not both guys. I’m just spit-balling here but personally I would love it.
Tony Pena, perhaps a finalist
Larry Bowa or Don Mattingly, highly unlikely but Donny Baseball is world class

I know there are more but I need to go to work. Help me out here with the other rumored candidates b/c I want to discuss these guys.

John Farrell is still my choice and if I were Mark I wouldn’t take no for an answer. None of those candidates that you mentioned AM makes me think they can lead the Indians to perrenial conteneders long term like I feel Farrell can do.


It doesn’t give us a closer from within if we get rid of Wood immedately because it would be like throwing the wolves to whoever closer we choose, all like we did in 2006 with Fausto Carmona. So why not do that procedure wisely and slowly by keeping Wood until June, or July and have him groom whoever the long term closer can be?

Farrell not being interested to me is a bit of a slap in the face to Shapiro and the Indians’ team … not often that a guy says “I don’t want that promotion you want to give me” … I’d guess that Farrell doesn’t think the Indians have any chance at success, or he has a problem with Shapiro. I’m surprised they don’t want to fill this position internally, I’d say they have some good candidates, like Fryman, Sarbaugh, and apparently Lovullo. I feel like I’ve heard more good things about Fryman and Sarbaugh than Lovullo, so I’m not entirely clear on why only Lovullo is viewed as a guy who might get an interview while the other two are not. Sarbaugh has led the Aeros to a pretty impressive record the past two years, while not having too many great individual performances, other than from Santana this year and some of the bullpen guys

ST, I would guess Lovullo gets the ink because the team we’d be fielding are basically all guys he’s coached. Also, I don’t know if I can name a manager who jumped from AA or lower to the majors — I think it’s the same basic system as for players.
Cantonguy, please don’t take this personally, but for some reason every single person on this blog has managed to miss my rather regular comment that I wouldn’t deal Wood until mid-season. So you’re suggesting what I’ve been suggesting this entire time — I’m not sure how the idea of dealing him in the off season was attributed to me, as I’ve never once suggested it and, as I said, have repeatedly suggested they move him at the trade deadline. His value is greater when a) teams are desperate for him and b) if he has a good first half. Sadly, for relievers, a is more important than b.
AM, I’m sticking with my Showalter pick. I know he was with the organization in some capacity a few years ago (adviser of some sort) and I think he’s got the type of attitude this club could use. He’s not quite the country bumpkin of a Grady Little (or Charlie Manuel, who’s done quite well since leaving us) or a hot head like Valentine (or Pinella), but a nice mix of the two. And the man has been around forever and has made comments on Baseball Tonight that he likes the moves the Tribe has made this year to get better in the future, which means he’d be on board with the “plan.”

My apologies LACF, I agree with you then…LOL

I previously said that I would have preferred Showalter over Farrell which at the time didn’t seem like a popular choice. I forgot him off my list. Thanks for the reminder.

I’d love to see my adopted town in the WS with an all SoCal series. But let’s face facts: we’re Tribe fans. You know Game 1 is going to be Lee vs. Sabathia, just to pour salt in the wounds.
Still, I’m looking forward to Lee pitching to Blake tomorrow night.
Casey’s made it to the League Championship 3 straight years now. Go figure.

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